36. Learn To Paint

My mother sent me to bed an hour early for a few nights in a row when daylight savings time would come in the spring. The theory was that she didn’t want me to lose an hour of sleep and be tired for school come Monday morning. My mother also sent me to bed an hour early when the clocks would go back in the fall. Probably because I was getting in her hair more than a compassionate concern for my biorhythms. I remember waking up that Sunday in the fall and thinking it was the greatest day in the world. I had entire extra hour to play. More time to enjoy my Cap’n Crunch. Watch the full episode of Davey and Goliath. Ride my bike with the fake shock absorbers off a ramp. Our baseball game could go extra innings. There were so many ways to enjoy that extra hour. I wished that I could have it every day. It’s funny because an extra hour is exactly what we all have right now.

Welcome to Swimming in the Flood; a podcast where we develop the resilient leader’s mindset by navigating difficult currents in business. My name is Trent Theroux.

Census Bureau Shows Shift In Working Environment

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average one-way commute to work is 26.1 minutes or roughly one hour a day. In total, that is nine days per year, nine whole days of sitting in traffic listening to The Morning Zoo radio program and their nauseating commercials each year.

The corona chaos is changing that dynamic for millions of people. Many, unfortunately are presently out of work. Others are now joining the ranks of the telecommuter. In 2015, the American Psychological Association published a study on the future of remote work. At the time it was estimated that 16% of the total workforce, more than 26 million Americans, were working at home for some portion of their job. Items from the paper highlighted some of the major benefits of telecommuting. Second after not having to constantly smell your boss’ cheap cologne is that telecommuters have the ability to create more work/life balance. They are not constricted to the normal Dolly Parton 9 to 5 job. Instead, according to the study, telecommuters become more task oriented with many of the workers operating well outside of the normal workday parameters. Further, the rate of productivity can be as much as one-third higher because office distractions and politics are eliminated. Most telecommuters report that they are able to complete all their major tasks in a fraction of a normal work day and with a higher level of proficiency.

Telecommuting Is Becoming More Prevalent

This leads me to the new crop of telecommuters. Are you one of the many who have now been requested to work from home because of the Coronavirus? I know. This is a different feel. Over the past two weeks, I’ve talked with numerous new telecommuters and their stories vary from success to frustrated failure. One of the greatest difficulties I’ve heard is that people are now trying to work with their children home tugging at their shirts all day. I feel for you. If we thought office distractions were burdensome try working with a child on their remote learning lessons when the child is five and can’t read! Here is someone else that I have great sympathy for – teachers. Schoolteachers are now trying to give twenty five different lessons to twenty five different students each day. And with parents home, they are now feeling more backseat drivers than Miss Daisy. Please remember, most of our school teachers have school age children themselves. And they are being tugged and pulled just as much as you are.

Personal Development Opportunities

Over the past two weeks, I’ve asked folks what they are doing with their extra hour per day. The answers range from practical to hysterically absurd. My daughter, Haley, is taking a coding class. One friend is doing virtual yoga. Another is taking up belly dancing. Adam Sandler was on Conan O’Brien’s show claiming that he’s having the best sex of his life. People are writing, cooking, playing with their children.

Developing resilient leaders can think of this another way. What skills can we develop that will make us more marketable in the future. This is unique opportunity in our lives to make an assessment of our skills gap and train up for the future. When else will you get the chance to improve yourself and be paid in the process? It only takes an hour a day. Transfer the hour that you were commuting into an hour of personal development.

I am now going to give you my unscientific, non-peer reviewed, resilient leader theory for closing the skills gap. Are you ready? Got your pencils out? Here’s it is. Learn to Paint. You heard it. Learn to Paint.

The theory is simple here’s how it works. I always wanted to be able to paint. Each year, I host a dinner party after which we paint some still life. I confess. I’m not much of an artist. My grammar school art projects all had a common theme. They would all turn into ashtrays. Working with clay…it would be an ashtray. Working with tiles…it would be an ashtray. Working with papier Mache…it would be an ashtray. I would hold my sickly looking piece of work in front of the art teacher. Sicklier than Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. My teachers would take a look…and bless their lying hearts…say, “Trent that is a beautiful ashtray.” Yes, an ashtray! I made an ashtray! And, I would leave thinking that I created something of beautiful and value. I would bring my Michaelangelo-esque work home and proudly say, “Mum, I made you this ashtray!”

My mother was always thankful for my art projects. She gave them a reverence reserved for the Mona Lisa. She held it with care and told me of the exact location in the house she was waiting for something special like this to adorn. I would traipse outside oblivious to the simple questions of… why would my parents need an ashtray if neither smoked? I mean never smoked. So much for my art work.

Bob Ross Makes Painting Easy For Non-Artists

I want to use this hour a day to improve this skill so I turned to YouTube where you can learn how to do everything. It was there that I ran into an old friend I remember from High School, Bob Ross. Bob Ross is an American icon whose life and work touched millions of fans around the world. Bob was the host of The Joy of Painting, a PBS broadcast in which Bob would teach you to paint while you were in your living room. He said, “All you need is the desire to make beautiful things happen on canvas.” Bob had a gentle voice, soft approach and a joyous sense of humor, all which played well on PBS. For me, the visual of Bob Ross was worth the price of admission. Bob was a white middle aged man with a beard that would rival those of Ben & Jerry. He was only 5’ 9”, but stood greater than 6’ 2” because of his afro. If you’ve never seen Bob, check here. You will not be disappointed.

Bob has hundreds of videos on You Tube and I committed myself to spending an hour with Bob every day this week to improve my painting skills. Here are some of the painting encouragements my friend Bob gave me this week.
After a week of practicing with my Van Dyke browns, and magentas, and burnt siennas and midnight blues, I have finally created a painting that I would be willing to hang on my wall. It’s from Bob Ross’ Season 5 Episode 13 titled meadow stream. And I have to say that it looks…like an ashtray. Maybe the best ashtray I’ve ever made, but an ashtray nevertheless.

Well…well, I’m glad that I invested time to learn something new. I hope you will take this as a challenge to broaden your horizons. There are multitudes of skills that can be developed and I trust that you will use this time wisely. For my next learning experience, it’s been about six weeks since I’ve had my hair cut. I noticed a couple of videos on how to DIY. I’ll let you know next week how that goes.

Thank you for listening to Swimming in the Flood. Resilient leaders face challenging currents and it is tough navigating, but with one tack or another we can get there together.
If you’ve got a couple of minutes, please check out my new website, trenttheroux.com. Also, if you enjoyed today’s episode please share it to on your social media. Let some of your network of developing resilient leaders hear what we’re doing every week.

Thanks for taking the time to listen. See ya